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22 Mar 2001 : Column WA173

Written Answers

Thursday, 22nd March 2001.

South East Europe Stability Pact

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they share the views on Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo of Mr Bodo Hombach, special co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South East Europe, including those expressed in the International Herald Tribune on 13 March.[HL1219]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We welcome the engagement of the Stability Pact in helping to resolve the problems of south east Europe and share many of the views expressed by Mr Hombach in the International Herald Tribune article of 13 March.

The UK is an active participant in the Stability Pact for South East Europe which works to increase stability in the region through co-operation on economic and democratic development.

Diplomatic Posts

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any new diplomatic posts have been opened over the past four years; and whether there are plans to open new diplomatic posts overseas.[HL1344]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: See below.

Since 1997, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has opened the following posts to support the delivery of the foreign policy objectives my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary set out on coming to office. Posts with resident UK-based staff

Banja Luka (Bosnia- Herzegovina) (1997)British Embassy Office
Chongqing (China) (2000)Consulate General
Denver (USA) (2000)Consulate
Dilj (East Timor) (2000)British Office
Gothenburg (Sweden) (2000)Consulate General
Pristina (Kosovo FRY) (2000)British Office

In addition, the British Trade Office in Hong Kong became a Consulate General in 1997. Posts with resident locally engaged staff only

Lome (Togo) (1998)Consulate
Calgary (Canada) (1999)British Trade Office
Fukuoka (Japan) (1999)Consulate
Ahmedabad (India) (2000)British Trade Offices
Bamako (Mali) (2000)Consulate
Bhopal (India) (2000)British Trade Office
Conakry (Guinea) (2000)Consulate
Goa (India) (2000)British Trade Office
Hyderabad (India) (2000)British Trade Office
Port-au-Prince (Haiti) (2000)Consular Office
Pune (India) (2000)British Trade Office

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In addition, the following posts have been upgraded from ones with only locally engaged staff to ones with resident UK-based staff:

Bangalore (India) (1999)British Trade Office
Nagoya (Japan) (1999)Consulate
Monterrey (Mexico) (2000)Consulate

As a direct result of the additional resources secured in the spending review last year, we are able to announce that we shall open three new embassies with resident UK-based staff in capital cities in the near future:

Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
Chisinau (Moldova) Pyongyang (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)

In addition, we shall upgrade the posts in Bamako (Mali) and Asmara (Eritrea) to UK-staffed posts from the LE posts currently open; and upgrade the post in Lahore (Pakistan) to an entry clearance operation from a British trade office. Pakistan is a country where we are already well represented but Lahore is a city where we now need a stronger presence.

Upgrading the post in Bamako will allow HMG to engage further with the Malian Government and to continue with our efforts to secure peace and stability within West Africa.

Upgrading the post in Asmara will be a cost-effective means of engaging more effectively with the Eritrean Government, promoting growing trade opportunities for British business and providing improved consular and visa services.

Opening in Bishkek will allow HMG to build up a strong bilateral relationship with the Kyrgyz Government and better to promote stability in the strategically important region.

In Chisinau, an Embassy will allow HMG to work with the Moldovan Government and keep a close watch on the Transdniestria conflict.

In December my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with the DPRK. Opening an embassy in Pyongyang will allow HMG to engage fully with the DPRK, improving our capacity to analyse political, economic and social developments and to help support recent positive developments in inter-Korean relations.

These new post openings mean that, net of closures, we shall since 1997 have expanded our diplomatic network of posts with resident UK-based staff by 12, in addition to having new locally-staffed offices in a further 10 cities (net of closure, seven). This strengthening of our global network will enable us better to promote UK interests and a strong world community.

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Romanian Information Centre

Baroness Hooper asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have ceased to fund the Romania Information Centre at Southampton University without allowing any time for the recommended exit policy to be implemented; and, if so, why.[HL1098]

Baroness Amos: We have tried over a long period to move the Romania Information Centre to a position where it could sustain itself financially. Funding could not continue indefinitely.

Romania faces many challenges to reduce poverty in the country. We are working closely with the new government and the international community to help them. The agenda set out in our published Country Strategy Paper in October 1999 is being taken forward and progress on it was recently reviewed with the Romanian authorities.

Sustainable Development

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they have put in place to ensure that all their international development policies and programmes contribute positively to sustainable development; and what performance indicators and targets they have established in this regard. [HL1222]

Baroness Amos: Sustainable development is one of the International Development Targets (IDTs) which the Government have made the centre of their development policy. DfID has recently published a document Achieving Sustainability: Poverty Elimination and the Environment as a strategy paper on how DfID and the international community should achieve the IDT on sustainable development by 2015.

DfID is helping formulate guidance on the principles of sustainable development planning, together with other donors and a number of developing countries, through the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD. A draft is due to be considered by the DAC High Level Ministerial meeting on 25/26 April and fed into the preparatory process for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Jo'burg, 2002). DfID is also supporting a number of developing country partners, for example Uganda and South Africa, in applying the principles for sustainable development planning.

DfID's Public Service Agreement for 2001-04 is based on achieving the IDTs. Objective II is to promote sustainable development through co-ordinated UK and international action, including by gaining international agreement on the integration of social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development into poverty reduction programmes. The new Service Delivery Agreement says how we intend to deliver this objective: by developing, and securing wide international agreement to, guidance on the principles of strategic planning for sustainable development by end-2001;

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and successfully integrating these principles into government, multilateral and DfID policies and programmes in 10 key DfID partner countries by early 2004, including agreed approaches to water resources management and capacity building for environmental management.

Copies of the Public Service Agreement and Service Delivery Agreement are in the Library of the House.

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate

Baroness Howells of St Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to increase the size of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate. [HL1380]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): This has been under consideration for some time as a means of ensuring the efficient and effective implementation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which provides for the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. We are pleased to announce that the existing complement of 21 inspectors will be increased to 33 over the next three financial years.

The extra 12 inspectors will result in a substantial and unprecedented level of inspectorate staffing. This will lead to more inspections to ensure compliance with licence conditions and will enable applications for authorities under the 1986 Act to be dealt with more efficiently, without compromising the quality of advice offered by the inspectorate. Furthermore, the Home Office will be able to become more proactive in raising standards of animal care and welfare, and to play a greater role in developing and promoting strategies of "replacement, reduction and refinement".

The cost of the additional inspectors will in due course have to be reflected in licence fees paid by those conducting animal research.

We hope that the scientific community and animal welfare organisations, and the general public, will welcome this important announcement. It is a practical demonstration of the Government's commitment to ensure that, for as long as there is a need to use animals in scientific research, the legislation to protect them is applied to maximum effect.

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